PENDLETON — Hugs, tears, smiles and laughs, emotions were aplenty at the South Madison Community Schools Corp.’s May Board of School Trustees meeting.
From superintendent, school board members and other administration, all gave their thanks for outstanding service to the corporation’s 2022 retirees.
Seven of the 11 retirees were in attendance.
Superintendent Mark Hall said this year’s retirees had a combined 267 years of experience, including 223 years at South Madison schools.
“That’s pretty impressive. Many of you will always hold a special place,” Hall said.
“I just think we are so blessed to have had these precious people. How can you replace people like this?” Board member Kaye Wolverton said.
Pendleton Heights High School Spanish teacher Cheri Williamson retires with 38 years in the education field, the most among retirees. She spent 22 years with South Madison.
High school social studies teacher Timothy Thomas retires after 35 years, all in the school district.
Cafeteria worker Judy Gilliatt was honored after 33 years of service.
“Judy worked through challenges and various things over the years. One thing has always remained constant, she is always there and willing to jump in and get the job done,” Director of School Nutrition Lindsey Hill said. “Even serving thousands and thousands of meals curbside during the pandemic, she rises to the occasion every single time.”
Hill said Gilliatt was also known for her superb baking skills.
The corporation thanked and said goodbye to husband and wife, Ronald and Patricia Hinton. Both taught at the high school. Ronald has been a math teacher for 30 years. Patricia taught special education for 18 years.
“I could have retired a number of years ago, but I waited until we could go out together,” Ronald said. “That does make it special. We have a lot of traveling plans.”
High school administrative secretary Joyce Daugherty is retiring after 20 years. She has been away from the school fighting a battle with cancer, but she wasn’t going to miss the chance to say thanks to the school system.
“I want to thank everyone here for all the years,” Daugherty said to the board and fellow retirees. “I never thought I could work somewhere for 20 (years). That just seemed like an arbitrary number to me and not even possible.
“Thank you South Madison for the benefits. (My husband) Kevin and I would be broke right now if not for the way the community and the school corporation has handled things. Cancer has a way of doing that to you. The corporation has provided well for us.”
Afterward Daugherty said, “I was ready to retire. I just wasn’t ready to retire this way.”
High school German teacher Karen Osburn, who taught the past seven years at the high school and 11 years overall was also able to attend the celebration of retirees.
Like Hill in her presentation on Gilliatt, Pendleton Heights Principal Connie Rickert became emotional when talking about her teachers finishing their careers.
“The retirees standing before me are some of the most amazing educators our district has to offer,” Rickert said. “Joyce is one of my moms away from home, looking out for me and making sure I stay on track.
“As these retirees enter in to this chapter of their journeys, I want them all to know how much the Pendleton Heights community appreciated their kindness, thoroughness and willingness to give to the staff and students. All of them always made sure the students’ needs were met and often put themselves second. Knowing them, I am a better person than the day you met me.”
Unable to attend were bus driver Debra Alberts (19 years), Pendleton Elementary instructional assistant Betty Begley (23 years), Pendleton Elementary teacher Jana Kemper (20 years) and Pendleton Heights Middle School language arts teacher Jill McMillen (20 years overall, 6 years at SMCSC).